“This disaster forever destroyed the United Nations’ reputation in Haiti,” Mr. Ban wrote in the book. “I am sickened that the country has not fully recovered.”
“Resolved: Uniting Nations in a Divided World,” Mr. Ban’s memoir, was published this month by Columbia University Press and devotes a chapter to Haiti and the U.N.’s work in that country, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest. Freed from the constraints of office, Mr. Ban went further than he had while secretary general in describing what, in his view, were the problems he faced with Haiti.
A victims’ compensation fund established by Mr. Ban near the end of his term, financed by voluntary contributions from member states, had less than $20 million as of Sunday, a sliver of the $400 million he had sought. Several diplomats told Mr. Ban their governments “do not want to pay U.N. debts stemming from our own negligence,” Mr. Ban said in the book.
Recalling his own traumatic visit to Haiti a week after the quake struck in January 2010, with vast parts of Port-au-Prince, the capital, in ruins, including the presidential palace, Mr. Ban dwelled on what he described as Mr. Préval’s seeming inability to cope.
“He had not even sent a message of hope to the Haitian people, and I strongly urged him to do so,” Mr. Ban recalled. “But he seemed so shaken that he didn’t know what to do. In fact, he was terrified. He was panicked.”
Mr. Préval, whose presidency ended in 2011, died in 2017.
Mr. Ban acknowledged that the 8,500 United Nations peacekeepers who were deployed in Haiti beginning in 2004 to control criminal gangs “were not beloved by the Haitians, who often thought the peacekeepers stirred up violence instead of quelling it.”
The poor perception of the peacekeepers, he said, worsened after the quake, when Haitians observed how the peacekeepers were not assisting with rescues and repairs. In fact, Mr. Ban said, the peacekeepers were “assigned to patrol the increasingly dangerous tent camps for crime and assault, problems that grew as time wore on and many Haitians grew angrier and more frustrated.”